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Minimum wage change of heart

By Jim Killebrew

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[May 13, 2014]  I think I have had a reconsideration regarding the minimum wage. I understand it is likely that some employers will have to downsize their staff numbers in order to meet a new payroll increased by a minimum wage increase mandate. That inevitably will cause some to lose their jobs since the employer will not be able to pass the payroll increase on to customers or clients.

But for the vast majority of employees who work for minimum wage presently will likely be able to keep their jobs since the employer will be able to pass the increased cost onto customers. The extra money has to come from some place, so increasing prices for services or products will likely be the only alternative most employers will have. That of course is the negative side of the increased minimum wage issue.

The positive side of the equation of this issue is for those people who are making the current $7.25 per hour minimum wage will immediately see an increase in their personal paycheck. Justifiably, the argument is those employees who make that wage are unable to support themselves or a family at that level of income. For them the possibility of having even a small increase in wage is almost hopeless, especially for those in the service field such as restaurants where employers tend to pay less than minimum wage and expect the waitperson’s tips to make up the difference. So for that group of people who are depending on their wage to sustain their sustenance of life, it will be a great boost for them to have a raise they can count on to help in their daily living.

As a taxpayer and humanitarian we must look toward the greatest benefit for those in need. It will likely cost more as prices edge upward because of higher prices for goods and services, but for those who will benefit from the increase in wage it should be worth it for them to have more income on which to live. Eventually, as it always does, the prices will drift up and settle at a place where it will cost more, but in the meantime those who are in the greatest need will have experienced a glimmer of hope and joy, at least momentarily providing a respite from the depths of poverty.

In the long run when the economy levels out and even begins to grow, more people will be in jobs that do not have to depend on minimum wage level salary. Those jobs have traditionally been the mainstay of teenagers, non-skilled workers and part-time, temporary jobs. Those jobs have never been considered a career-type job where a head-of-household wage earner would remain for a life-time of work. Those jobs have helped youth in high school or early college years close the gap of either having or not having spending money for their teen-age years. As the economy has gone south with recessions and inflation more people who do have families have yielded to the need to have the lower paying jobs just to make ends meet. The devastation this has caused has been those single Moms who have resorted out of necessity to take the lower, hourly minimum wage positions just to fee their children.

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Therefore, considering the United States has been in an economic slump over the past five or six years even though the politicians are telling us the recession is over, the person who buys gasoline, shops for groceries, pays fees for their children to attend school, buys clothes, pays utility bills, house payments all know the politicians who make hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money in their own salaries really have no credibility in telling someone on a minimum wage that the recession is over. If for no other reason other than the rising cost of living in our country, the minimum wage should be raised just to allow for that cost of living increase.

The major problem I see in the issue of minimum wage is that it has to depend on the federal government for the most part to establish a practice on private citizens by using the force of law. If the politicians were to actually try to work together on this issue rather than using their own partisanship practices to “follow their party line” as always, the solution could be found that would lessen the strain on small business employers and provide the benefits of an increased wage for those lowest income wage earners. We, and they, should look for ways to empathetically help those who are working to help themselves by both lowering the government wage confiscatory practices and helping to increase the value of work by increasing the living standard of those who do work.


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